Richmond’s three-peat dream is looking about as likely as Rafael Nadal representing Burkina Faso in the javelin at this month’s Tokyo Olympics.
In the clearest indication yet that the Tigers’ dynasty has come to an end, Damien Hardwick’s side reached the nadir of their recent golden run on Thursday night – slumping to an embarrassing 10-point defeat to Gold Coast. Damningly for the Tigers, the margin would’ve been bigger had the Suns not missed a host of straightforward shots on goal.
The Karmichael Hunt debacle of 2012 might’ve been the low point of Hardwick’s 12-year reign at Richmond, but their one-time bogy team returned to haunt them at Marvel Stadium with a vengeance, delivering a hammer blow which could see them drop out of the top eight this week.
Just when you thought Richmond couldn’t sink any lower after registering their lowest score in 60 years against the battling Saints last week, the reigning back-to-back premiers “outdid” themselves with a timid, listless and meek performance, as they failed to overcome the bottom-three Suns who lost to wooden spoon favourites North Melbourne last week.
Richmond’s foot skills, especially from some of their most reliable ball users, were as bad as they’ve been in the past five years, and the side’s usually well-drilled backline made numerous uncharacteristic errors while giving the Suns too much room on too many occasions.
Not even the huge leg-up of having the game switched from Metricon Stadium to Marvel Stadium could save Richmond. In fact, the hungry Suns played as if it was truly a “home game” as they out-hunted, out-hassled and out-pressured their more fancied opponents to convincingly win the disposals (360-319), marks (120-57), inside 50s (64-42), contested possessions (145-131), tackles (65-48), scoring shots (27-17) and clearances (34-31).
Only Gold Coast’s poor goalkicking kept the Tigers in the game for most of the night, and even though Richmond came at the Suns with a burst late in the second quarter and five of six goals either side of three-quarter time, Gold Coast responded each time with grit and determination, ensuring one of the biggest upsets of the season.
Most striking thing about Tigers the last two games has been the extent to which they've fumbled. Ball handling normally so clean. Guess that's confidence being eroded. #AFLSunsTigers
Richmond playing like it knows it’s season is on the line in the next 30 minutes. #AFLSunsTigers
That Suns fightback late in the second was SUPER impressive. After all their easy misses, then Richmond going bang, bang, bang, I thought we were about to see one-way traffic #AFLSunsTigers
H. U. G. E. ☀️ #AFLSunsTigers
Miller the magnificent
Touk Miller set the tone for the Suns with a sensational first quarter that saw him record 13 disposals (four contested), three marks, five handball-receives and two clearances (one centre). He finished up with 36 touches (15 contested), seven marks, seven tackles, nine clearances (five centre), 424 metres gained and six score involvements to once again be Gold Coast’s best player. Jack Lukosius was also huge with 24 disposals and a game-high 10 marks – including a crucial intercept with 3:30 left in the game. A couple of minutes later, Ben King sealed the deal with his fourth major.
Tigers gift Suns goals
On a night when the Suns were really struggling to kick goals, the Tigers backline gave them a few gimmes courtesy of some woeful acts of ill-discipline. Early in the first term, Nick Vlastuin made Josh Corbett’s first goal a certainty when he gave away a 50m penalty after the Suns forward marked 30m out, and on the halftime siren, Dylan Grimes inexplicably threw Ben Ainsworth to the ground to hand Gold Coast another gift-wrapped present. It was totally unnecessary because Brandon Ellis had pumped the ball in from outside 50m and it would’ve almost certainly been killed by the big pack.
The Suns snapped their six-game losing streak against Richmond. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Rankine gets away with one
Lucky Izak Rankine backs his ability because it could’ve ended very badly for him late in the third quarter when he decided to take advantage after a teammate was awarded a free kick 25m out directly in front of goal. Rather than stop play, Rankine ran onto the loose ball and with the outside of his right boot, soccered through a sensational six-pointer to put the Suns up by nine points. It was a very high-risk, low-percentage move, but all’s well ends well.
SUNS 2.7 5.10 8.14 10.17 (77)
TIGERS 2.1 5.4 8.5 10.7 (67)
LERNER’S BEST Suns: Miller, Lukosius, King, Ellis, Ainsworth, Ballard, Holman. Tigers: Lynch, Short, Chol, Grimes.
GOALS Suns: King 4, Corbett, Swallow, Ainsworth, Sexton, Rankine, Sharp. Tigers: Lynch 5, Naish, Riewoldt, Bolton, Martin, Graham.
INJURIES Suns: Corbett (concussion). Tigers: Coleman-Jones (lower leg – TBC).
UMPIRES Donlon, Howarth, Wheeton
VENUE Marvel Stadium
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
3 T.Miller (GC)
2 J.Lukosius (GC)
1 T.Lynch (Rich)
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